What Iran’s Election Tells Us About Where It’s Headed

Waving Iran flag above skyline of Tehran at sunset.

By Norman T. Roule

Norman T. Roule is a geopolitical and energy consultant who served for 34 years in the Central Intelligence Agency, managing numerous programs relating to Iran and the Middle East. He served as the National Intelligence Manager for Iran (NIM-I) at the ODNI from 2008 until 2017. As NIM-I, he was the principal Intelligence Community (IC) official responsible for overseeing all aspects of national intelligence policy and activities related to Iran, to include IC engagement on Iran issues with senior policymakers in the National Security Council and the Department of State.

Hard-line cleric Ebrahim Raisi won Iran’s presidential election on Saturday in a move that is expected to bolster the conservative legacy of the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The decision is not expected to derail ongoing negotiations aimed at restoring the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal, even though Mr. Raisi himself is under US sanctions over accusations of human rights abuses.  Many voters stayed away from the polls as the outcome had been predicted for months with many progressive candidates barred from running.

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